Switching to drone deliveries has been on the cards for Amazon for several years. The shopping giant has been promising to launch the service but has reported multiple setbacks and this has meant long delays.
However, the company has now announced that it will begin with drone deliveries later this year in Lockeford, California, providing it gets the final regulatory approval it needs.
Amazon has been talking about delivery drones since 2013. In 2019, the company said it would be introducing the service “within months”.
Explaining how Prime Air deliveries would work, Amazon said: “Once onboarded, customers in Lockeford will see Prime Air-eligible items on Amazon. They will place an order as they normally would and receive an estimated arrival time with a status tracker for their order.”
“For these deliveries, the drone will fly to the designated delivery location, descend to the customer’s backyard, and hover at a safe height. It will then safely release the package and rise back up to altitude.”
How will it work?
If approved, Amazon users in the town, which has a population of around 4,000 people, will be able to sign up for the service, which will give them the option to have thousands of products delivered by air to their homes.
In a blog post, the company said: “The promise of drone delivery has often felt like science fiction. [But] later this year, Amazon customers living in Lockeford, California, will become among the first to receive Prime Air deliveries.
Their feedback about Prime Air will help us create a service that will safely scale to meet the needs of customers everywhere.”
Amazon said in its blog post that the service will work by programming drones to drop parcels to customers in Lockeford, with a target time of less than one hour.
The drones can fly “beyond-line-of-sight”. This means that they don’t need to be controlled by a human; instead, they will use sensors to avoid people, pets, aircraft, and other obstacles.
If the service goes according to plan in Lockeford and is well received, Amazon plans to roll out the service more widely so customers in other towns can use it.